Windows President Steven Sinofsky has given the first live demo of Windows 8 at the D9 conference in Southern California, and it makes one hell of a statement. The first impression is the complete overhaul of the UI. Everything is touchscreen crazy but with the familiar feel of a Windows Phone 7-based handset. The Windows 8 homescreen is a bunch of tiles that lead to each app. Each tile displays information (such as weather, email, etc) and can be touched (or clicked) to go into it.
One tile leads to the traditional Windows desktop, another is marked "Store"; we're seeing Microsoft make some bold moves here. One of the best things I took from the video was the ability to be in an application or watching a video and you swipe from the left of the screen and it brings up background tasks. Dragging and dropping them keeps them in view, and another swipe from the left brings up the next background app.
It's things like this Microsoft, things like this. Right now, I'm kinda blown away - and this does not happen easily for me. The excitement is surely building and if they can do a few more things (partner up with Samsung for example and release a Windows 8-based Galaxy Tab) or partner with another company and release a Windows 8-based touchscreen PC, specifically built for Windows 8, it could be quite the change for Microsoft.
If Microsoft could sync Windows 8-based desktops, a Windows 8-based tablet and smartphone and have everything in the cloud... well, this could spark a change in the entire industry. Microsoft probably has the most power to do so as Windows is still (by far) the most used operating system in the world.
Another thing to point out is that despite the complete overhaul to the user interface, it's still the same OS underneath. Steven has said "Everything that runs on Windows 8, every peripheral, will run on this," which would put a sense of calm into the market; there's no need to rejiggy hardware, software or anything to get them to work.
No launch date is available, with 2012 being the earliest we'll see it.